It is always bittersweet when week seventeen of the NFL season gets here; bitter because diehard football fans know than in approximately one month, Sundays will be so much different from what we have become accustomed to over the last four months; sweet because we know that the real season starts next week – the tournament to determine who will win this year’s Lombardi Trophy. As Bronco fans, we should be elated that the Denver Broncos have secured a spot in said tournament as they begin the quest to bring a third Lombardi Trophy to their case at Dove Valley. Before we think about that though, one last regular season game remains; if the Broncos can beat the San Diego Chargers in the season finale, they will earn their fifth consecutive AFC West Championship (the 15th in the team’s history). For my brief thoughts on this game, as well as the other AFC West game featuring the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, please continue reading.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos: A Bronco victory not only gets the Broncos another divisional championship, it earns them a week off; a bye week before you start what the team hopes is a long playoff run (3 games to be precise). At this point in the season, a week off is so welcomed because it allows rest, healing, and additional preparation time. The Broncos control their own destiny thanks to their impressive 20-17 overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. While home field advantage throughout playoffs is unlikely (in addition to a Bronco victory, the 5-10 Miami Dolphins would have to upset the 12-3 New England Patriots), the Broncos know that they have a spot in the playoffs and the only teams standing in front of another divisional championship are the San Diego Chargers and themselves. All that being said, the San Diego Chargers can’t be overlooked, even with their 4-11 record.
After Sunday, the Chargers start their offseason; one of which that may bring tremendous amounts of change to the southern-California team. What better way to go into an offseason than by upsetting the potential division champs in their home stadium? The Chargers enter this game ranked sixth overall in offense (375.5 YPG) and 18th in defense (352.5 YPG). I don’t like to say this, but Philip Rivers is a competitor and I expect to see a lot of bark in that dog come Sunday. I also believe that Mike McCoy will be a bit more fired-up for this game considering he served as offensive coordinator for five seasons in the Mile High City.
I am letting my heart my heart predict this game – big performances by the Broncos on both sides of the ball for four total quarters: Broncos 31, Chargers 17.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs, and the fans at Arrowhead Stadium will no doubt be watching the scoreboard or checking their smartphones for the score between the Broncos and Chargers in Denver. Unlike the Broncos, the Chiefs do not control their own fate and if they hope to stop the Broncos from winning another division championship, the Chiefs will have to beat the Oakland Raiders, and hope the Chargers knock off the Broncos. If that happens, the Chiefs and Broncos will end the regular season with identical records (11-5). If that does happen, the Chiefs will win the division due to the fact that they will have a better divisional record than the Broncos. I am getting way ahead of myself – the Chiefs must beat the Raiders… I am not sure this will happen.
The Oakland Raiders are on the cusp it appears to be a true contender in the division with new coach, Jack Del Rio, and young quarterback Derek Carr. Broncos fans will no doubt forget the game that Khalil Mack had against the Broncos in week fourteen. One last factor that may impact the game is the fact that today is Charles Woodson’s last NFL game since he has decided to retire after this season. While the Chiefs have plenty of motivation going into today’s game (see San Diego at Denver notes), I am hoping the Raiders are motivated enough to spoil the Chiefs final regular season game, as well as conclude their season with a huge victory. While it is difficult to analyse this game with my head in lieu of my heart, below are the statistical rankings for the offensive and defensive units of both teams:
- Kansas City total offense: 25th (330.7) / Oakland total defense: 22nd (365.3)
- Oakland total offense: 22nd (342.1) / Kansas City total defense: 8th (337.6)
If I use my head to predict this game: Kansas City wins their tenth game in a row, 21-10
If I use my heart to predict this game: Oakland upsets the Chiefs, 21-20
I hope my heart is right today!
Enjoy week seventeen Broncos Country – after today start getting ready for the playoffs!
Go Broncos – beat San Diego !
Go Raiders – beat Kansas City ! !
Go Dolphins – beat New England ! ! !